THE TWENTY PERCENT
By Bob Bennett
Approval of Congress is at an historic low. Few believe those in Congress represent them. Most believe nearly every member of Congress is beholden to special interests. Those in Congress are much richer than the common man or woman, and like most people, speak mainly to others in their same circles. Political posturing has been more important than substance for about as long as anyone can remember. The concerns of the common people are many, but political campaigns are run by marketing people, and marketing people know that 20% of the people can be ignored. The eighty percent are all that count. Yet, among the ignored 20% a great amount of government spending, waste, ineffective policies and neglect exists.
For the most part, during the past 60 years, eighty percent of Americans have been fairly well off, and even most of the 20% were generally seeing improvements in their standard of living. This is no longer true. While the incomes of the rich have been rising, more individuals are seeing their standard of living falling. Many have lost jobs, had their homes foreclosed on them, are homeless –or living on the couches of friends and relatives. Odds are increasing that more will also face these new realities. More who were formerly prosperous are falling within the 20% that the marketing people prefer to ignore. It could even rise above 20%.
Innovation does not come from the eighty percent. Necessity is the mother of invention. Among the 20% are those who seek creative solutions for the difficulties they face. More and more they find government impeding their efforts. Try to start a small business after getting laid off, and lose unemployment benefits. Innovation is discouraged. The bureaucracy wants to force people to become dependent upon it. All too often, those receiving benefits find it easier just to go along with senseless rules and regulations. Senseless, except they create job security for those in the bureaucracy.
Both the Mental Health and the Criminal Justice systems need total reform. Fear, stigma, and wanting to have handy scapegoats, have been the overriding factors neither have undergone the needed reform. I believe mental illness can be eliminated and prevented within this current generation. Much of the non-drug research in this field has been ignored. Studies have shown that from 5% to 75% of psychiatric patients have been misdiagnosed, many with treatable medical conditions which have been ignored. The implications from studies on trauma have also gone largely unnoticed. The compulsion to repeat the circumstances of the original trauma in an unconscious to achieve a better outcome – even when it places that individual –or others – in harm’s way effort helps explain both actions of those diagnosed with mental illness, as well as some criminal behavior. Treating trauma, using the available non-drug methods, early – especially in juvenile services, should be a priority, preventing these individuals from receiving mental health diagnoses, as well as turning them towards a life of crime and drug use.
The election in November could well be a deciding factor. Do we continue policies of increased protections for the rich and powerful – which are driving this nation towards increased wars, and a steep cliff from which no return may be possible; or do we address the domestic problems which we have chosen to ignore, the 20% which the marketing people have long said are unimportant? This is the choice those who are elected, whichever party wins, will need to make.
The Libertarian Vice Presidential Candidate -Judge Jim Gray will be at UNR at 6 PM on Wednesday Oct. 3rd. While UNR pulled the approval to use the Wells Fargo Auditorium after granting its approval 2 weeks earlier – If they do not reverse themselves again - the question and answer talk will be given from the steps of the Knowledge Center. The debate between Obama & Romney will also be shown (provided we can figure a way to do it if we are forced to the steps !)
On Tuesday, Oct 2nd, the group of people who are trying to prevent The City of Reno from turning their homes and neighborhood on Landers Street over to the Catholic Church will be attempting to make their case at the McKinley Arts & Culture Center 925 Riverside Drive Reno at 6PM. It is open to the public.